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Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey

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Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his parents thought he might be lesbian. At twenty, he wondered if he was asexual. At twenty-three, he surgically removed his breasts. A year later, he began taking the hormones that would lower his voice and give him a beard—and he announced his new name and pronouns. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy’s journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy’s story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives—those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they once saw as a sister, and of the parents who ultimately joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.


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Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his parents thought he might be lesbian. At twenty, he wondered if he was asexual. At twenty-three, he surgically removed his breasts. A year later, he began taking the hormones that would lower his voice and give him a beard—and he announced his new name and pronouns. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy’s journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy’s story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives—those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they once saw as a sister, and of the parents who ultimately joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.

30 review for Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This book is a mandatory read for every human, doesn’t matter if you are somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, an ally or not. This book is about a trans person, yes, but it also about finding one’s true self and identity, while struggling with expectations and assumptions. It’s what we a go through at some point in our lives, but for trans people it is even worse, they struggle with who they, how they feel, what others might think and are up against extremely discriminating legislation. How can y This book is a mandatory read for every human, doesn’t matter if you are somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, an ally or not. This book is about a trans person, yes, but it also about finding one’s true self and identity, while struggling with expectations and assumptions. It’s what we a go through at some point in our lives, but for trans people it is even worse, they struggle with who they, how they feel, what others might think and are up against extremely discriminating legislation. How can you become your true self and stay happy, with a support system like Jeremy’s. He is extremely lucky and his parents and siblings have shown to be true advocates and are more supportive and understanding than anyone can ask for. Penned by his mother this book tells Jeremy’s story from several viewpoints. His mother, Jo, interview/ had storytelling time with all his siblings and his father. As well as asking herself tough questions and be brutally honest in answering them. Jo captures a story of struggle, coming of age and love. They all have questions and doubts at some point, but don’t we all about everything? It feels like the memoir is written with extreme care, taking time to show true emotions, true feelings and letting no one feel bad about it. I think jo has been especially considerate when it comes to all the trans parts with Jeremy. The openging chapter actually already reveals that much.not everyone’s story is the same, but everyone can be inspired by this one. Also I find it disturbing to read about the different legislation in each state, the US can be a real messed up place... you can be a person and accepted (on paper) in one state, but in the next you can’t be who you are. I am glad to live in a country where this isn’t happening. Make this heartfelt memoir a mandatory read in schools and I think the world might just become a little better, at least I hope so. Thanks for writing this inspiring book! *ARC received in exchange for an honest review*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Casey the Reader

    Thanks to Booksparks for the free advance copy of this book. Jeremy was assigned female at birth. His parents thought he was a tomboy because he showed no interest in "girly" childhood things. But as he grew older and withdrew from social relationships where he was expected to act like a girl, they began to suspect something larger was at play. ONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY is a "family memoir" - the book not only features transcripts of Jeremy's video diaries but first person writing from his paren Thanks to Booksparks for the free advance copy of this book. Jeremy was assigned female at birth. His parents thought he was a tomboy because he showed no interest in "girly" childhood things. But as he grew older and withdrew from social relationships where he was expected to act like a girl, they began to suspect something larger was at play. ONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY is a "family memoir" - the book not only features transcripts of Jeremy's video diaries but first person writing from his parents and siblings, recalling their thoughts and experiences as Jeremy came to realize he was transgender and sought transition. I'll be completely honest. At first, I was a bit annoyed at this book for centering the feelings of all the straight cis people in Jeremy's life. I usually take the stance of "too bad if it makes you feel uncomfortable, that's not really my problem" when it comes to straight people understanding and accepting queer lives. But as I worked through the book, I realized most of why I felt that way is because this book isn't for me. It's for all the parents of trans kids who are having a hard time understanding their kids; parents who aren't well versed in gender theory and don't know where to start. And I do think that is important. It's important for family of trans folks to have a guide who isn't their kid so the burden of teaching isn't on the marginalized person. I do want to flag this, though. If you are a trans person, particularly one who has struggled with body dysphoria and social/family acceptance, take special care with this book. While Jeremy's family did come around, they had a hard time grasping the situation at first and cycled through a lot of transphobic thoughts and feelings, even when outwardly supporting their child. This is not to say the book itself takes a transphobic stance, just that in the process of debunking these ideas, they are stated pretty plainly in the writings of his parents.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stay Fetters

    "Something is different. I don’t want to hide anymore, even though I’m scared to say even to myself that I’m trans. I’m frozen, unable to make a decision. The thought of change is terrifying. Can I do it? Will I disappoint everyone if I do? Oh, God." Biographies (memoirs) are one of my favorite kinds of books to read but I don’t read many. It’s hard to put a rating and a review on someone else’s life. They’ve experienced these things and we’re just reading what’s on the paper. I haven’t read many "Something is different. I don’t want to hide anymore, even though I’m scared to say even to myself that I’m trans. I’m frozen, unable to make a decision. The thought of change is terrifying. Can I do it? Will I disappoint everyone if I do? Oh, God." Biographies (memoirs) are one of my favorite kinds of books to read but I don’t read many. It’s hard to put a rating and a review on someone else’s life. They’ve experienced these things and we’re just reading what’s on the paper. I haven’t read many books about the LGBTQIAP+ community but It’s time that I do, educate myself more, and this is where we should all start. This book takes us through the journey of not only Jeremy but of his closest family members as he discovers who he is. It’s told through many POV’s but it’s mostly of his Mom listening to her son, educating herself, and being an advocate for the transgender community. Not everyone’s family is supportive and willing to educate themselves. I’m glad that Jeremy had a great support system, not only at home with family but with friends as he transitioned into being his true self. Once a girl, Always a Boy is a heartfelt and important memoir. It’s an eye-opening memoir that should be read by everyone. Jeremy is brave for telling his story because not all of it was positive and it’s hard to find the right words in letting others know what you’re thinking/feeling. There is a lot of hate in this world and it needs to end. We should be supportive of one another. If you need to talk to someone, I’ve posted the phone number below. Trans Lifeline: (Information shared from their website) A 24/7 hotline available in the U.S. and Canada staffed by transgender people for transgender people. Trans Lifeline is primarily for transgender people in a crisis, from struggling with gender identity to thoughts of self-harm. The number is: 1-877-565-8860

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    As an involved teen mom, I've met more than one of my kid's friends that identify as transgender. I wanted to better understand what they go through so I can be a better encourager and support for them. So many of them have no one that will be there for them. This book was helpful. The author, a mom of a trans child, was amazingly supportive and a great model for how to get your child through their struggle, and she was very vulnerable about her own struggles in the process. I also suspect her c As an involved teen mom, I've met more than one of my kid's friends that identify as transgender. I wanted to better understand what they go through so I can be a better encourager and support for them. So many of them have no one that will be there for them. This book was helpful. The author, a mom of a trans child, was amazingly supportive and a great model for how to get your child through their struggle, and she was very vulnerable about her own struggles in the process. I also suspect her child would have liked less spotlight..... But that being said the story is helpful for others. I do wish those who are staunchly against transgenderism would take some time to educate themselves. It is less about sex and much more about identity. The kids going through it need safe places to work it out. If you really want to be a change in the world, be that safe place.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Story Circle Book Reviews

    Siblings Elizabeth and Emily prepare for Elizabeth’s wedding. Emily, aged 23, is asked to be maid of honor and accepts, but immediately feels uncomfortable. Hoping that ignoring the feeling will make it go away, hoping it’ll get better and be okay, Emily agonizes over what to do. Then the bridesmaid dress arrives, bringing with it the moment of truth: Elizabeth is informed that Emily will not—cannot—put the dress on, under any circumstance. In many families, such a statement might lead to anger, Siblings Elizabeth and Emily prepare for Elizabeth’s wedding. Emily, aged 23, is asked to be maid of honor and accepts, but immediately feels uncomfortable. Hoping that ignoring the feeling will make it go away, hoping it’ll get better and be okay, Emily agonizes over what to do. Then the bridesmaid dress arrives, bringing with it the moment of truth: Elizabeth is informed that Emily will not—cannot—put the dress on, under any circumstance. In many families, such a statement might lead to anger, hurt feelings, and even ruptured relationships. But this isn’t just any family; it’s the Ivesters. The whole family discusses the situation, and Elizabeth agrees that Emily—who later becomes Jeremy—may wear dress slacks and a vest to match the bridesmaid dresses. He was comfortable, and his family, being aware, were able to be supportive of who he is. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is written by Jeremy’s mother Jo Ivester, but the story of his transgender journey is told through the perspective of various family members. I appreciate that they were willing to open up their lives and give us a peek into it. From an inquisitive childhood to an articulate adulthood, Jeremy lives with a thoughtfulness and maturity rarely seen. What I took from his story is that Jeremy didn’t rush his growth. He stepped into each new period of his life by being introspective. Looking in a mirror seemed to help him discover a courage to move forward with what he knew he needed to do in order to feel whole. The support Jeremy received from his family along the way—as demonstrated by the bridesmaid dress situation—went far, I think, in allowing him to grow into his true self. Getting to know this mother and son through her excellent storytelling will keep any reader immersed in the family’s memoir. I found myself with a new appreciation and compassion for those who travel the transgender path. Anyone who reads Once a Girl, Always a Boy will come away with a sense of what it takes to live a life when one is not always accepted by society. It can help us all have a better understanding, and acceptance. Love, understanding and compassion make this world a better place in which to live. This book was reviewed for Story Circle Book Reviews by Doris Clark.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Fellow Austinite! At first I cringed when i read it was from moms perspective but as I read on, I understood that Jermey participated in the writing and agreed to it. I am so glad this story exists and from perspective of the family. I hope this book inspires and helps other family members to support trans folkx.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This book deserves every one of the 5-stars I have given it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a well-written, enlightening, open and honest family memoir that helps readers understand gender identity and the issues surrounding it. I applaud and admire Jeremy for being willing to share his entire story with us (complete with pictures!), beginning in young childhood through and beyond his transition. The reader is able to hear his voice at each stage of his journey and that is so brave and so engaging This book deserves every one of the 5-stars I have given it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a well-written, enlightening, open and honest family memoir that helps readers understand gender identity and the issues surrounding it. I applaud and admire Jeremy for being willing to share his entire story with us (complete with pictures!), beginning in young childhood through and beyond his transition. The reader is able to hear his voice at each stage of his journey and that is so brave and so engaging! To be privy to his thoughts as he questions and struggles with his identity and deals with the huge impacts, repercussions and changes is nothing short of a true gift. I love that the reader hears from each family member as well. This book is filled with so many emotions and the author (Jeremy's mother) is skilled at taking the reader through all of them. This book will go a long way in helping people truly relate to and understand the LGBT (I know there are more initials but don't want to get them wrong!) community. Inspiring and heart-warming, a call to action, there is just so much about this book to admire and love! My thanks to NetGalley and She Writes Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelly B

    A must read! An inspiring, honest, positive story about a family learning and growing together as their transgender son discovers and accepts his true self. Moving and insightful to read the family's struggle with understanding their son's feelings and choices but heartwarming to see their unconditional acceptance. The Ivester family allows readers to see their struggles, challenges, and ultimate unconditional love for one another. I pray all LGBTQIA+ persons have he same love and support as Jer A must read! An inspiring, honest, positive story about a family learning and growing together as their transgender son discovers and accepts his true self. Moving and insightful to read the family's struggle with understanding their son's feelings and choices but heartwarming to see their unconditional acceptance. The Ivester family allows readers to see their struggles, challenges, and ultimate unconditional love for one another. I pray all LGBTQIA+ persons have he same love and support as Jeremy does.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heather F

    I really wanted to enjoy this book, but it was so all over the place I couldn't. It so bounced from narrator (all members of the subject's family weigh in), to time, period, to switching between calling the subject Jeremy and his deadname, I was underwhelmed. Case in point--right after showing a portrait of high school senior Jeremy in a dress, the narrator returned to the tale of deadname flunking out of college. Did not finish. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. I really wanted to enjoy this book, but it was so all over the place I couldn't. It so bounced from narrator (all members of the subject's family weigh in), to time, period, to switching between calling the subject Jeremy and his deadname, I was underwhelmed. Case in point--right after showing a portrait of high school senior Jeremy in a dress, the narrator returned to the tale of deadname flunking out of college. Did not finish. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    One of the best written transgender memoirs I've read recently. It is told from multiple viewpoints including: Jeremy, his mother Jo, his dad Jon, and Jeremy's siblings. I know it's hard for people to talk about such private issues such as gender, but it's so important for the world to see that these are just regular people trying to be themselves just as we all are. Thank you for sharing your family. One of the best written transgender memoirs I've read recently. It is told from multiple viewpoints including: Jeremy, his mother Jo, his dad Jon, and Jeremy's siblings. I know it's hard for people to talk about such private issues such as gender, but it's so important for the world to see that these are just regular people trying to be themselves just as we all are. Thank you for sharing your family.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    This book is incredibly important and poignant. I appreciated the different perspectives from each family member, and it was carefully and heartwarmingly crafted. There is something so genuinely special in reading about the love Jo and her family have for Jeremy, and their unwavering support throughout his transition.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sue Parker Gerson

    This is a remarkable book. Jo and Jeremy tell a compelling and important story. At once bold and vulnerable, it has given me lots of food for thought and a renewed sense of urgency to make sure our laws protect everyone no matter who they are or who they love. The audio, narrated by Jo, Jeremy, and their family members, is terrific. Highly, highly recommend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Fleischer

    I received this books from Booksparks as part of their pop up tour. I absolutely loved this book. I felt that Jo Ivester did an amazing job at providing an inside look how her son and family processed and understood his transition to Jeremy. Longer review to come soon!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca D’Harlingue

    Knowing that Jo Ivester wrote this memoir about her son Jeremy, who is a trans man, as the focus, I expected it to be mostly from her perspective. However, Ivester included so much more, especially from the point of view of Jeremy. This book informs so well, and from an honest and loving perspective. We learn of Jeremy's journey, and I think that what most struck me was coming to understand how transitioning can be such a long process, one with so many decisions to be made, each one bringing on Knowing that Jo Ivester wrote this memoir about her son Jeremy, who is a trans man, as the focus, I expected it to be mostly from her perspective. However, Ivester included so much more, especially from the point of view of Jeremy. This book informs so well, and from an honest and loving perspective. We learn of Jeremy's journey, and I think that what most struck me was coming to understand how transitioning can be such a long process, one with so many decisions to be made, each one bringing on huge change, each one requiring tremendous courage. This is a book that makes a difference.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sonja Mohr

    Listened to this as an audiobook, with the actual family narrating the different perspectives on Emily/Jeremy's story. Especially important to read for people who think transgender rights are a political issue. It's also a great story that holds your interest. Listened to this as an audiobook, with the actual family narrating the different perspectives on Emily/Jeremy's story. Especially important to read for people who think transgender rights are a political issue. It's also a great story that holds your interest.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Once a Girl, Always A Boy by Jo Ivestor is a wonderful memoir. In fact, this is the kind of memoir that keeps me reading them. There are transgender people in my life, and I suspect that most people know someone - even if they aren't aware of it. This memoir is personal and challenging and I would recommend that everyone read it. What's unique about this book is the way that the family is represented through a variety of POVs. The most present voices are that of Jo Ivester (author and Mom) and Je Once a Girl, Always A Boy by Jo Ivestor is a wonderful memoir. In fact, this is the kind of memoir that keeps me reading them. There are transgender people in my life, and I suspect that most people know someone - even if they aren't aware of it. This memoir is personal and challenging and I would recommend that everyone read it. What's unique about this book is the way that the family is represented through a variety of POVs. The most present voices are that of Jo Ivester (author and Mom) and Jeremy Ivester. Jeremy's siblings and his father have also contributed to this memoir and there's such a strong sense of family and love throughout the book. It's so valuable to have a book that gives a perspective on what a family member transitioning means to everyone involved. Unquestionably this book is about Jeremy and all the things that he went through as he worked through discovering who he was and how he wanted to be for the rest of his life. But, it's also about Jeremy's family and how they supported him, were confused by his thoughts and feelings, and the effect of transition on them. I haven't read anything previously that explores the impact of gender so well and in such an intimate way. I think that one of the most important things that I take away from this book is all the things I didn't think about. There are so many times during a life, during a year, during a day... that a person's gender comes up. There were things I hadn't even thought of that can really be such a shock to someone's system: growing and changing bodies, sports bras, sleepovers, shopping for school clothes, playing sports, hair cuts, weddings ... all these things happen constantly and are an ever-present reminder of gender. The systems that we interact with almost daily often begin with gender... there were things that I hadn't even thought of. When you apply for a job you have to show ID, what if that ID doesn't have the same gender as the one you present? Passports? Educational institutions? Doctors? Prescriptions? Appointments? Some of these systems are difficult to navigate without the added emotion and stress of having ID that doesn't state the correct gender? Maybe it was naive but I didn't even think about how difficult some of these everyday things (to me) could be for other people. That's because as a cisgender woman, I've never had to think about it. This book touches on so many things: intergenerational understandings of masculinity and femininity, being left out, being bullied, hiding pain and emotions to fit in, politics... life. There are so many milestones passed in this book and I feel honored to have been allowed to read about this family.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Beautiful clear story. Not especially literary writing. inspiring nonetheless.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Nicola

    4.5 stars! Not that Jeremy had an easy transition but it was probably smoother than the transition for most people. The book is told from various points of view and had me crying multiple times, most often with the mother side of the story. Recommended read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cathy D

    This is a well-written, enlightening, open and honest memoir, telling the life of Jeremy Ivester. The journey he has taken is told by not only he, but his mom, dad, and siblings. The honesty in the family is something to be admired. They all share their feelings, from confusion, sadness, understanding, acceptance, to being fierce advocates for the LGBTQ community. I’m glad Jeremy’s mom decided to write this book. It’s a story that needs to be told. And needs to be read by everyone.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robby

    I give this book five stars for courage and for documenting the experience of a transgender person and their loved ones. Jeremy’s voice is my favorite part of the book, and I applaud him and his family for being brave enough to publish these experiences in a book. I give the tone and vibe of the book three stars because it’s a tad stiff, a bit artificially airbrushed, and sometimes avoids going too deep. Many scenes read like a fictionalized, therapy-informed, polite family dinner table scenes, l I give this book five stars for courage and for documenting the experience of a transgender person and their loved ones. Jeremy’s voice is my favorite part of the book, and I applaud him and his family for being brave enough to publish these experiences in a book. I give the tone and vibe of the book three stars because it’s a tad stiff, a bit artificially airbrushed, and sometimes avoids going too deep. Many scenes read like a fictionalized, therapy-informed, polite family dinner table scenes, like something out of the Boxcar Children. I give the author and publisher 3.5 stars for being a bit unaware of the central family’s privilege. This is a story of a transgender person having all the financial supports possible, but the author barely recognizes this fact, and that can be dangerous for the other 99% trans and allies community who can’t afford the time, money and buffering that such a financially privileged family can. They also lightly mention the appalling rates of murder to the community of trans people of color, but barely more than that... In what feels to me to be discomfort about “opening up that whole can of worms”, which to me feels negligent, coming from the blinding power of white privilege. Overall, I would recommend this book, and am grateful for its publication. But I will likely find myself expressing these caveats when passing the title along.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Shepherd

    I rarely read memoirs but this grabbed my attention and I wasn't disappointed. The story of Jeremy Ivester who was born a girl and all the struggles he encountered on his journey to become Jeremy. Written with chapters and viewpoints of members of his family, friends and colleagues. A touching book and well written with family photos relevant to the book added a nice touch. I rarely read memoirs but this grabbed my attention and I wasn't disappointed. The story of Jeremy Ivester who was born a girl and all the struggles he encountered on his journey to become Jeremy. Written with chapters and viewpoints of members of his family, friends and colleagues. A touching book and well written with family photos relevant to the book added a nice touch.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rolanda Parkin

    Courage Educational.....never having had the opportunity to read this type of book...a subject I knew very little about I found this very informative and extremely well written. I now have a much different view and enormous respect for anyone in this situation. Thank you for enlightening me and showing the enormous challenges and courage these individuals have!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roger Hyttinen

    I don't read biographies all that often, but this one caught my eye, and I'm so glad that I read it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy follows Jeremy Ivester, a trans man who was born as Emily. We follow his journey as he struggles with his identity, knowing all along that something is not quite right with the way he perceives himself. What's compelling about this book, however, is that it's written by his mother, and the author represents the entire family via multiple points of view. In this way, it's I don't read biographies all that often, but this one caught my eye, and I'm so glad that I read it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy follows Jeremy Ivester, a trans man who was born as Emily. We follow his journey as he struggles with his identity, knowing all along that something is not quite right with the way he perceives himself. What's compelling about this book, however, is that it's written by his mother, and the author represents the entire family via multiple points of view. In this way, it's not just Jeremy's journey we're reading about but that of his entire family. There is such a strong sense of love and family throughout the book which rendered it all the more endearing. The story is told in short, vignettes of Jeremy's life presented chronologically by him and his loving family. We follow along with Jeremey at each stage of his journey, and I loved being privy to his thoughts, feelings, and questions as he struggled to discover his identity and deal with the enormous repercussions of all of his decisions. Additionally, the everyday gender issues that Jeremy had to deal with were quite eye-opening, things such as sleepovers with his friends, shopping for clothes, getting hair cuts, standing up at weddings, puberty, presenting your ID when asked, prescriptions, passports, which bathroom to use, discrimination and prejudice by others, getting a job, and hateful legislation aimed at trans people. My heart went out to Jeremy as he tried to figure out how he fits into his world, and I applaud his bravery and tenacity as he made many tough decisions, remaining true to his heart in the process. As a reader, I loved that Jeremy and his mom shared his entire story with us, beginning from around the age of six or so through his adulthood in his 20s. I loved hearing his voice and being privy to his thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams every step along the way. What was also interesting was his family's own journey, as they tried to understand and support him and work through their confusion about what their son was going through. This book is ultimately about the power of saying – and living – your truth, without fear. It's not just a story about being trans, but it's also about discovering one's true self in the face of the expectations of society and family. It's a powerful and compelling story that needed to be told and needs to be read and talked about. This was a surprising read that took me places I very much didn't expect. It's the kind of book that makes us think about who we are and how we want to live our lives, and I don't think I've ever read such an intimate and moving portrayal of gender issues like this before. It actually moved me to tears in several places. Once a Girl, Always a Boy succeeds in doing what you hope every book will do - it pulls you in from the first page, holds you captive in the middle, then leave you satisfied and thoughtful — and perhaps a bit wiser — at the end. What I especially found riveting about Jeremy's story is how he was able to discover his true self and move to his place in his life where he was happy, all with his family's love and support. It was evident how having a loving and supportive family like Jeremy's made all the difference in his life, and it hurts my heart to realize that not all trans people are so fortunate. Ultimately, I feel that Jeremy's story should be a welcome addition to everyone's bookshelves, regardless of whether you fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ Spectrum or not. This is a lovely story about a family accepting their son's transition and illustrates perfectly how we should all be supporting our children and loved ones. At the end of the day, it's a story of being human. It's about unconditionally loving our kids, regardless of how challenging and painful that move toward acceptance can be. I always find it difficult to rate biographies because, after all, what we have is a true story/snippet of someone's life. But I don't hesitate in the least to rate this one five solid stars out of five.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susie Turk

    This is the story of a trans man and his journey of self-discovery told mainly from the perspective of him and his parents, Jo and Jon. I would have liked the incorporation of more points of view such as his siblings. For example, how did Liz feel finding out only a month before her wedding that then-Emily was refusing to wear the bridesmaids dress? I felt oddly vested in the book because Jo Ivester had come to a book club session when we had read her previous book The Outskirts of Hope. At that This is the story of a trans man and his journey of self-discovery told mainly from the perspective of him and his parents, Jo and Jon. I would have liked the incorporation of more points of view such as his siblings. For example, how did Liz feel finding out only a month before her wedding that then-Emily was refusing to wear the bridesmaids dress? I felt oddly vested in the book because Jo Ivester had come to a book club session when we had read her previous book The Outskirts of Hope. At that session, she had told us her plans of this book, so I have been anticipating reading it for a while. Also, much of it takes place in Austin where I live. What I found surprising about Jeremy's journey is that he didn't really seem to know or understand (or perhaps it was truly acknowledge) that he was trans until his twenties. As a child, he only played with little boys and was very sports-oriented. He wanted to wear his hair short like a boy, and all of that really only becomes a challenge in middle school which is typically when kids focus on hanging out with kids in their gender as they start to become interested in the other gender more romantically. Jeremy, then Emily, begins to be ostracized and finds himself not accepted by his previous male friends and not accepted by females. He becomes the only "girl" to play on his football team. This becomes less of an issue in college, but he never seems to be able to stay in school or be interested in college and drops out numerous times, and I believe never finishes. It wasn't clear to me what, if any, relationship there was with his trans journey and his inability/lack of desire to finish college. I enjoyed elements of Jeremy's journey that I had not previously considered or heard about in others' journeys such as when he couldn't rent the apartment after having legally changed his name because his credit was still under his previous name. With two different names and the same SSN, it appeared to be fraud. I found the last part of the book the most educational as Jo and Jon become very involved in fighting against LGBTQ discrimination. Many times I found myself getting teary just thinking about all the hatred, violence, and cruelty shown to the LGBTQ (particularly trans) community. I truly don't understand why people can't just be respectful to everyone else and why they have nothing better to do than hate on others. Who cares if you don't agree with/understand someone else's life? The bathroom law is just flat-out ridiculous. How is that even enforceable? As if a copy is going to look at everyone's penis or vagina and verify their birth certificate before they can go into the bathroom? Ridiculous. I would have liked to understand more about how Jeremy's asexuality had to do with his lack of self identity, his spleen issues, low testosterone, or some combination and what the final outcome is. Did he ever find love/romance or ever develop any interest in it? I felt like maybe he did because he went to the gay bar in which he made some good friends. Maybe it wasn't a loose end, and I just perceived it to be.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Hubbard

    I received a copy of Once A Girl, Always A Boy book from Readers' Favorite in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.  I can't speak from someone with gender or body dysphoria and I don't want to assume, but if you are trans and struggle with these things, then a trigger warning is perhaps needed.  Jeremy was assigned female at birth and was known as Emily for a majority of his life (at the time of publication). He and his family referred to himself as a tomboy in childh I received a copy of Once A Girl, Always A Boy book from Readers' Favorite in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.  I can't speak from someone with gender or body dysphoria and I don't want to assume, but if you are trans and struggle with these things, then a trigger warning is perhaps needed.  Jeremy was assigned female at birth and was known as Emily for a majority of his life (at the time of publication). He and his family referred to himself as a tomboy in childhood and early adulthood as he had no interest in "girly" things, only wanted to wear boys' clothing, was excellent at sports (often better than the boys), and more. The book is written from very different viewpoints.  Jo (Jeremy's mother), Jon (Jeremy's father), Ben & Sammy (Jeremy's brothers), and Jeremy himself (utilizing video diaries Jeremy created during his transition). I was really concerned about this book at first. I didn't understand why it was written by the mother and not Jeremy. Upon immediate reaction, I felt like she was trying to ride on his story. Also, without researching their story ahead of time, I worried that Jeremy was no longer alive and that's why it was written by her.  However, I gave the book a chance despite these concerns. And, I realized, for the most part, I was wrong. While the book is clearly about the entire family, they still do Jeremy justice in the book.  While I'm typically of the "too bad if it makes you uncomfortable" variety and couldn't care less if family and friends are put in a "weird" position, I also really appreciated the family's willingness to be honest about their feelings. I don't have any immediate and close ties to a trans person, but I still felt very invested in this story. Some may say that this book is for the parents of trans kids or anyone confused by the concept.  However, I didn't realize see this as "how-to" book so if you're reading this for advice and guidance, I'm not sure it will give practical, tangible advice. It will, however, possibly give inspiration. Jeremy's family ends up being extremely supportive, but they definitely had their bouts of not grasping the situation or Jeremy's feelings. While the book was written by the mother, supposedly Jeremy had final okay over what was included in the book. Assuming that's true, it is my belief that Jeremy always had a pretty good relationship with his family despite the hiccups along the way. He even mentions how lucky he is both for the support system and the financial support something many trans people do not have.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I hadn't sourced this book purposefully; it came up on my BookBub "bargains" email, it looked interesting, and I thought it might enlighten me a little. I like to think that I am very open and accepting of people, whether I fully understand the situation or not. After all, we all only ever know what we are told, and it is never the whole story. I used to lean towards the theory that if society did not have certain expectations of specific sexes and just accepted people as people, without stereot I hadn't sourced this book purposefully; it came up on my BookBub "bargains" email, it looked interesting, and I thought it might enlighten me a little. I like to think that I am very open and accepting of people, whether I fully understand the situation or not. After all, we all only ever know what we are told, and it is never the whole story. I used to lean towards the theory that if society did not have certain expectations of specific sexes and just accepted people as people, without stereotypes ever coming into play, the Trans community would be less inclined to change their anatomy physically and feel more at peace with themselves. However, thanks to this book, I now know that this is not true; while growing up, Jeremy was known to be a tomboy and was accepted as such. No one was bothered that he was not "girly" and was allowed to wear whatever he was comfortable with and play and participate in whatever activities he chose. Given how Jeremy's story continues, it is clear my original thoughts were rather off, and I am glad I had the pleasure of reading his story to correct my beliefs and become more understanding. It was refreshing to read about a supportive family, but even more so that they were honest about their ignorance throughout the process. Despite not understanding Jeremy's reasons initially, they sought out understanding and continued to encourage and support him regardless. Although it may be hard for some individuals to read some of the thoughts and feelings of the family members and Jeremy himself throughout the book, I think it is important that they didn't cover up or gloss over these thoughts and feelings. Thus, it isn't one-sided, which I feel is needed for acceptance and understanding for all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is even remotely interested in learning more about those who are transgender. It raises some issues that those who are transgender face, although, sadly, I am painfully aware that there are many people out there who do not have the support that Jeremy had and who have faced much worse discrimination and hate. Hopefully, this book goes a little way to educate the public.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dai Guerra

    Thank you to Booksparks for the advanced copy of the book. I'm always worried about reading memoirs about transgender people because I worry it'll make me overly emotional. While overly emotional isn't a bad thing, sometimes these books make me angry because of the way the people in the story get treated. I went into this one expecting that but what I didn't expect was to learn. As someone who is transgender, it was nice to watch Jeremy's family struggle to understand him. I tend to get frustrat Thank you to Booksparks for the advanced copy of the book. I'm always worried about reading memoirs about transgender people because I worry it'll make me overly emotional. While overly emotional isn't a bad thing, sometimes these books make me angry because of the way the people in the story get treated. I went into this one expecting that but what I didn't expect was to learn. As someone who is transgender, it was nice to watch Jeremy's family struggle to understand him. I tend to get frustrated by my family not understanding my gender or sexual identity and seeing all of Jeremy's family react and learn gave me a new perspective. It taught me to give people some time to learn, especially the people who I know are trying and to listen to why they're struggling with things related to my gender and sexuality. It was also really nice to watch Jeremy learn about himself and come to terms with each of his identities. I was able to relate to so many moments that are included in this book and loved how much of his feelings are included. It was refreshing to see how his understanding of his identity was constantly shifting and how he slowly leaned into who he is. I loved that this story was centered on Jeremy's adult years and how so many of his coming to terms with who he is and learning about himself happens in his late 20s. It made my journey as a non-binary transgender person feel normal and let me know that it was okay to not have the answers at my age. This was a great book to be able to read during this stay at home order because it made me feel understood. This book uplifted me in moments that I was struggling with because living at home with a family who uses my legal name and misgenders me without having an escape from it gets rough. This book was a constant reminder that I decide my identity and even when others don't see me that way my identity remains the same. I really enjoyed how this book was written in multiple perspectives and you got sections from Jeremy, the mom, dad, and the siblings. It was great to see so many of the same scenes through different eyes.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Marie

    • BOOK REVIEW • Book #55 of 2020 • Once a Girl, Always a Boy by Jo Ivester • Finished 06/22/20 I'm going to be very upfront • I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book A family memoir, Jeremy Ivester's story is told from the perspectives of alternating family members but all written by his mother • Jo Ivester uses interviews with the family along with information collected from Jeremy's journals to put together a timeline spanning Jeremy's birth to his young adult years • After a childhood of • BOOK REVIEW • Book #55 of 2020 • Once a Girl, Always a Boy by Jo Ivester • Finished 06/22/20 I'm going to be very upfront • I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book A family memoir, Jeremy Ivester's story is told from the perspectives of alternating family members but all written by his mother • Jo Ivester uses interviews with the family along with information collected from Jeremy's journals to put together a timeline spanning Jeremy's birth to his young adult years • After a childhood of being told and taught he was simply a tomboy, the book is meant to center around his realization that he was transgender, his path to seeking transition and his family's journey alongside him At the start of the book, Jo Ivester explains she chooses to use Jeremy's dead name when writing about Jeremy's early years to help the reader differentiate • I struggled with this choice because it felt as if we were meant to see Jeremy as two separate people rather than accepting he was Jeremy wholly, in any physical form • Because the memoir is solely written by his mother, it feels very heavily skewed toward how she interpreted what family members shared and moreso how she was affected • Due to the family memoir style, the writing and timeline feels disjointed at times • It made it hard for me to truly connect as I had to do quite a bit of backtracking as I read I feel this could be a good book for parents who are not well versed in gender identity and spectrum that want to better support their child • While some parts are hard to read because they come across insensitive, it does take you through their journey as parents to better understand, support and honestly accept Jeremy for he truly is • I do appreciate their willingness to be vulnerable by sharing some of the mistakes they made but be aware as a reader that those parts could also be triggering and/or damaging for trans individuals or anyone working through gender issues

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan Rogers

    Once a girl, always a boy is a family memoir. It is written mostly from the perspective of Jeremy's mom with small sections written by Jeremy's siblings and other sections derived from videos he made throughout his journey. For myself, also the mother of a trans son, some of this memoir was familiar to my experience and some was not. There were parts which I read through very quickly and others which were not as gripping. I think this story would be good for readers that are curious about transg Once a girl, always a boy is a family memoir. It is written mostly from the perspective of Jeremy's mom with small sections written by Jeremy's siblings and other sections derived from videos he made throughout his journey. For myself, also the mother of a trans son, some of this memoir was familiar to my experience and some was not. There were parts which I read through very quickly and others which were not as gripping. I think this story would be good for readers that are curious about transgender people but not very familiar with coming out stories. Maybe parents and family of folks trying to figure out their gender identity or who have recently come out as trans. I appreciated that Jo took the time to unpack her own experiences as a child that identified as a tomboy, and how that differed from her son being transgender. They also didn't shy away from discussing some more complex and sensitive topics such as phalloplasty, but also are obviously respecting Jeremy's privacy. I will say that readers should go in understanding that this is a family that is financially privileged, and the author does acknowledge that in a limited way. These are not people that have ever had to deal with not being able to afford health care or travel or housing. Jeremy had parents that supported him fully even when they didn't fully understand gender identity issues. Another potential issue is that Jo is a white woman that references growing up in the Mississippi Delta while her father was a doctor in the poor black community. She has written a previous memoir about this time of her life and discusses that she has been able to use this experience to educate other white people who are unfamiliar with racial struggles. I have not read that book and do not fully know how she handles this topic. It is possible that American Black readers may find her to be off putting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liz K

    I picked this up because I wanted to educate myself more on someone's journey as they transitioned and thought the added aspect of the family's perspective was intriguing. I decided to listen in audiobook form when I found out the family was narrating because I thought that was pretty neat. I thought this seemed like a great choice because it focused on a transgender man and his family from childhood to adulthood. But this wasn't at all what I expected because it didn't really feel like Jeremy's I picked this up because I wanted to educate myself more on someone's journey as they transitioned and thought the added aspect of the family's perspective was intriguing. I decided to listen in audiobook form when I found out the family was narrating because I thought that was pretty neat. I thought this seemed like a great choice because it focused on a transgender man and his family from childhood to adulthood. But this wasn't at all what I expected because it didn't really feel like Jeremy's story... It felt much more like his family's. At first it was very interesting but it became so frustrating because it felt like it was alot of the family patting themselves on the back when they thought they handled situations well and making excuses to justify when things weren't handled well. Another irritating element during my listening experience was I felt like so many of the mother's chapters had paragraphs thrown in just to use the opportunity to show off. There was an abundance of throwaway lines about how she was a MIT graduate, or other successes she had or how she understood what Jeremy was going through because she herself use to be a tom boy. I came to listen to the journey of a transgender man and his family... The struggles, the hardships, the acceptance, everything involving that... Although that was the core of the story, it felt like there were so many unnecessary extra anecdotes from the family. That being said, Jeremy's chapters were great. I wish there were alot more from his perspective. But hey. I might be being a little harsh about this. Maybe it's a different experience reading it. But I definitely had to stop myself from grinding my teeth far too many times while listening.

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